4 Questions to Ask When Reviewing Potential Employee Social Media Profiles

November 20, 2012

12:00 pm

For any startup or small business, hiring top quality candidates is always a challenge. You want to ensure you’re getting the most dedicated, talented workers around, but it can often be difficult to tell this just from a resume, cover letter, and interview.

Tech startups that want to ensure they’re getting the most qualified candidates — candidates who mesh well with their company culture — need look no further than the Web for added insight. Public social media profiles can be an excellent indication of whether or not a candidate would be a good fit for your company, offering added insight into a candidate that a resume and cover letter often can’t parallel.

But before you Google your candidates or start browsing their blog or Twitter account, you have to know what you’re looking for. Here are four questions to ask when reviewing potential employee social media profiles:

1. Do they demonstrate passion? If a candidate uses social media as a tool for professional credibility and advancement, they will regularly display their knowledge and passion about their chosen industry. If the candidate regularly shares links and offers insight into industry news and happenings, this is a good indication they have a vested interest in their work. Determine what kinds of information your candidate is sharing, and how this relates to their dedication to their career as a whole.

2. Do they maintain professionalism? Look for any signs that a candidate may not mesh well with your company culture — are their tweets and blog posts laden with profanity? Do their online posts or pictures border on vulgar or unprofessional? An ideal candidate shows their personality online while also maintaining a level of professionalism. Of course, this doesn’t mean the candidate shouldn’t display their creativity and wide range of personal interests as well — you want to hire a colleague, not a robot!

3. Do they provide background info? Check your candidate’s presence on sites like LinkedIn to view their work history, and determine if they include any work history in their Twitter bio, personal blog, or other public profiles. A good candidate will provide some background info that allows you to see where their past experience lies. Sites like LinkedIn also allow you to see if the candidate has any existing recommendations from past employers or colleagues, which can be a good indication of how well they maintain professional relationships.

4. How well do they communicate? Don’t skimp on checking for proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling — good communication skills are ideal no matter what your industry or expertise. A qualified candidate realizes it’s important to display these skills to show they’re a competent and engaged worker. Public online profiles are the number one way for job seekers to display their unique skills–and nothing kills credibility like a lack of attention to good communication.

Checking the public online profiles of potential employees can be an excellent way to gauge what they’re all about, including their passions, interests, professionalism, and communication skills. Next time you Google a candidate, keep these four questions in mind before extending an interview or job offer. Good luck!

Do you check potential employee’s social media profiles? If so, how does this help you to gauge whether they’d be a good fit at your company or startup?


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Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010). Find Heather on Google+.